SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE KITCHEN

A recent New York court filing in Manhattan Supreme Court alleges that a female cook was sexually harassed and groped by the head chef at David Bouley’s restaurant in Tribeca (“Bouley Restaurant”). The female chef, Genevieve Germain, 27, accuses Head Chef Daniel Chavez of blowing kisses at her, ogling her breasts and brushing up against her rear end.

Additionally, Ms. Germain alleges that on at least one occasion, Mr. Chavez asked her to taste a sauce he had prepared. When she complied, Mr. Chaves replied, “Oh, I love it when do that with your lips.” On a separate occasion, Ms. Germain claims that Mr. Chavez approached her from behind, while she was wearing light colored pants and said that she should not wear pants like that because it “excited” him too much.

Unable to endure the sexual harassment any further, Ms. Germain contends that she mustered the courage to complain to the restaurant’s General Manager. No remedial action was taken in response to her complaint and Ms. Germain ultimately was constructively discharged from her employment with Bouley Restaurant.

By working in New York City, Ms. Germain gains the protection of the broad New York City discrimination laws, arguably the most plaintiff-friendly in the county.

In 2005, New York City signed into law the Local Civil Rights Restoration Act (“Restoration Act”), N.Y.C. LOCAL LAW NO. 85 of 2005. The enactment of the Restoration Act reflected the New York City Council’s concern that the Courts were constructing the NYCHRL “too narrowly.” In addition, the intent of the Restoration Act was to “undercut the [NYCHRL’s] intent to maximize the opportunities for discrimination to be exposed.” The amendments were intended to eliminate the mechanism by which judges failed to give the local law the expansive interpretation.

Over the past ten years, the New York Court of Appeals has emphasized that the Restoration Act was enacted to ensure a liberal construction of the NYCHRL by requiring that all provisions of the law are construed broadly in favor of discrimination plaintiffs. While ultimately it will be up to a jury of her peers to determine whether Ms. Germain’s allegations are vindicated, the broad remedial New York City discrimination laws should provide Ms. Germain or other female employees who believe they have been sexually harassed the confidence to proceed with their claims in court.

If you believe you were subject to sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, please contact Akin Law Group PLLC at (212) 825-1400 as soon as possible. Akin Law Group offers free consultations and has lawyers who specialize in employment law who will do their best to assist you.